Directed by Atom Egoyan / Written by Benjamin August / Starring Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau and Dean Morris
“A survivor should not like Wagner”
In REMEMBER, Christopher Plummer plays Zev, a Jewish retiree living in a nursing home who had recently lost his wife and suffers from bouts of dementia. Egged on by Max (Martin Landau), who has his full mental capacity but is trapped in a wheelchair with oxygen tubes permanently affixed to his face, Zev escapes from the nursing home with notes and directions meticulously written by Max to go a road trip to find and kill Rudy Kolander, a Nazi responsible for the death of his family in Auschwitz. The problem is that there are a few Rudy Kolanders that fit the description and the elderly Zev, who can only remember what to do next is when he reads the notes when reminded by another note on the cuff of his sleeve, must decipher which is the correct Rudy he must kill.
The premise of this movie is shakier than Zev’s hands. I found it inconceivable that an elderly gentleman would have no difficulties buying a gun from a salesperson, especially after he had to be taught how to use it. Despite one memorable scene when Zev finds a Rudy who was not a Nazi but was in Auschwitz because he was German and gay, everything about REMEMBER is as inauthentic as the accents both Plummer and Landau utilize. The sheer chutzpah of these great actors emulating Laurence Olivier’s embarrassing turn in the remake of THE JAZZ SINGER had my eyes rolling in the back of my head.
REMEMBER is laborious to sit through and Egoyan’s heavy handedness with Auschwitz symbolism is beyond affected – it is lazy. Do we really need to see Zev react badly when he sees a boxcar or a showerhead or guard dogs? Furthermore, we must start holding Egoyan accountable for years of foisting cinematic claptrap. Atom, I say this from the heart. You are no longer Canada’s movie wunderkind. You’re becoming a hack with very rich, forgiving producers. Your next movie had better be titled “Redemption”.